January 28, 2022

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Maxwell’s lawyers raise questions about accuser’s age when meeting Epstein – Reuters

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NEW YORK, Dec 3 (Reuters) – Ghislaine Maxwell’s defense attorneys on Friday questioned a former Jeffrey Epstein employee about which year he met a woman who says she was abused by Epstein as a teenager, in an apparent attempt to show she was above the age of consent at the time.

Juan Alessi, who worked full-time at Epstein’s Palm Beach estate from 1991 to 2002, said earlier at Maxwell’s sex abuse trial that he first recalled meeting a girl referred to by the pseudonym Jane in 1994. Jane testified earlier this week that Maxwell set her up for abuse that year by Epstein when she was 14.

But upon cross-examination by the British socialite’s attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca during the trial’s fifth day on Friday, Alessi said he could not recall precisely the year he met Jane. Pagliuca then asked whether Alessi met her in 1998 or after – when she could have been of legal age to consent.

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“No, that’s not true,” Alessi said.

Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sex trafficking and other crimes. Prosecutors have accused the British socialite of recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein to abuse, and say she participated in some of the encounters.

The Florida property also contained photos of Epstein, a globetrotting financier, with Pope John Paul II and late Cuban President Fidel Castro, according to Gregory Parkinson, a police officer who led a 2005 search of the home and testified after Alessi. On the stand, Parkinson was watching a video of the search, which was sealed from the public.

Alessi had also recalled photographs of the Pope and Castro.

Alessi’s account came after Jane, now in her early 40s, testified that she had regular sexual contact with Epstein while she was a teenager and that Maxwell took part in some encounters. Jane is the first of four Maxwell accusers expected to testify in the trial.

Maxwell’s attorneys argue she is being scapegoated for Epstein’s alleged crimes since Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail in 2019 at the age of 66 while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.

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Reporting by Luc Cohen;
Editing by Sandra Maler and Alistair Bell


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